When Mister Man heard about the opportunity to shave his head for St. Baldrick’s, he never hesitated. Of course he wanted to do it. He heard that it was something he could do to make a difference and support kids who have cancer.
When he was in kindergarten, he learned that the little brother of a good friend of his has a form of pediatric cancer – and still struggles with it now. It’s something that has stuck with him, but he’s a kid. He’s always just sort of known that it was “there” but never really thought about what he could do to make a difference or that kids really can make a difference. Shame on me for not finding more ways to get kids involved, but that’s an entirely separate topic.
Part of participating in St. Baldrick’s is fundraising, as the goal is not just to raise awareness around pediatric cancer and how it differs from adult cancers but also to raise money to help fund pediatric cancer research. Mister Man set a modest goal, and he was focused more on showing his support in a physical way with a shaved head than he was on the dollars.
As the day grew closer, he got a little more nervous about having a shaved head. What if people made fun of him? What if he looked dumb? What if he got cut? What if he had a weird shaped head? What if his hair didn’t grow back right? What is no one got it?
He was still going to do it, but he little things worried him. And me being me, I turned to Facebook and asked for support. I put out a plea to my friends – it isn’t the money that matters, that isn’t his focus. He just wants to know that people are behind him. If you have $1, can you donate it just so he has one more person in his corner. And the outpouring blew me away. It wasn’t $1 or $5. It was people donating $20 and $40 and $50 to support him, and it raised his spirits like you wouldn’t believe to see that people believed in what he was doing.
By the time we headed to go get his head shaved, he’d raised over $500, and he was so proud. But of course, we couldn’t just head there. He ran upstairs as we were trying to get out the door, and I followed him, asking what he was doing. “Mom,” he explained in exasperation, “I have to get my donation, too.”
And he reached into his piggy bank and pulled out his last $20 bill. That’s when my heart broke.
He was so proud, and so excited by the time he got there. He owned this thing, and he was going to make a difference. When he had a chance, he hopped right up into the chair and sat more quietly than he ever has for any haircut. No fidgeting. No squirming. No complaining about the hair tickling him.
His smile at the end of it lit up the day. He did it. He made a difference, and he knew it.
He looks so much older to me now. And I do a double take when I see him because where is all that thick, gorgeous hair? And he is older. He gets why he did what we did, and I’m proud of him just as much as he’s proud of himself. But the fact that he didn’t simply cut his hair and donate the money is what really makes me a proud mama.
After we got home, he asked if we had any thank you notes. On his own, he’d scooped up some of the hair they’d shaved from him and stuck it in a pocket (can’t wait to wash that coat). He wanted to write a thank you note to each and every person who donated to him and include a lock of hair so they get how much it means to him that they took the time out of their day to support the cause he believes in.
Thank you for donating to kids who have cancer. It was appreciated very much. I can’t wait to do it again next year.
So yeah… pediatric cancer sucks. Royally. But here’s hoping that the $545 Mister Man raised for St. Baldrick’s helps find a way for it to suck just a little bit less for kids going forward. And if not this year, next year when he does it again.